The National Forum Research Ethics Committee is a sub-committee of the Board of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. It is responsible for developing, implementing and enhancing ethics arrangements for research conducted under the aegis of the Forum. Membership of the committee is by institutional nomination of staff with recognised expertise in research ethics from higher education institutions affiliated to the Forum.

Additionally the committee may co-opt such relevant expertise as may be required to undertake its business effectively. The Research Ethics Committee shall report to the National Forum Board on an annual basis and shall in the course of its business submit relevant ethics policy proposals for approval by the Board of the Forum.

In the event of an appeal of a decision of the Research Ethics Committee, an appeal may be made to the Chair of the Forum Board, who may set up an independent committee to address the matter.

Dr. Joseph Ryan Deputy Chair of the National Forum; Registrar at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT)
Dr. Jane Carrigan Research Officer at Institute of Education, Dublin City University (Formerly Chair of Griffith College Research Committee)
Dr. Suzanne Guerin Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University College Dublin; Member of the Human Research Ethics Committee, UCD
Dr. Mary McDonnell-Naughton Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, AIT; Chair of AIT Research Ethics Committee
Prof. John O’Halloran Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, University College Cork

Membership of the Research Ethics Committee is initially for a period of three years.

Terms of Reference

The Research Ethics Committee (REC) is responsible for developing, implementing and enhancing ethics arrangements for research to be conducted in the name of the Forum and for developing ethics processes in line with international good practice. The scope of its activities include: research to be undertaken by the Forum, research commissioned of a third party by the Forum and research conducted by the Forum in partnership with higher education institutions.  In the case of National Forum/HEI partnership research, the Forum Research Ethics Committee will seek to build collaborative and constructive relationships with individual HEI Research Ethics Committees through a process of recognition of HEIs’ local approval processes and where possible the development of reciprocity for research ethics processes.  The Forum Research Ethics Committee does not hold jurisdiction over research designed and conducted on a single site, which is carried out by any single institution.
In fulfilling its remit, the Committee:

  1. Will review the ethics implications of Forum-led and Forum-commissioned research proposals to ensure that they are consistent with the Forum’s objectives for high quality research and the values of the British Educational Research Association Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research;
  2. In reviewing the ethics implications of Forum-led or -commissioned research proposals, may decide to: grant approval; grant approval subject to clarification (normally review by the Chair and one other nominated member); grant approval subject to clarification and review by the full Committee; require re-submission of the proposal, or reject the proposal;
  3. Will receive and acknowledge recognition of ethics approval for partnership research proposals which have been reviewed by recognised institutional Research Ethics Committees (normally HEIs, research institutes, professional bodies);
  4. Will build and consolidate expertise on research ethics for teaching and learning research to guide its activities prospectively and to also share expertise across the higher education sector;
  5. Will work towards developing and formalising arrangements for reciprocity with recognised institutional Research Ethics Committees.

Administrative Arrangements

  • The REC will meet up to three times per year, ordinarily, though where possible and practicable as appropriate to the proposals for approval the committee may conduct its business electronically.
  • The REC shall be considered quorate where a majority of members (normally at least three) are available to participate actively (including via the use of remote technology) in the deliberations of the Committee.
  • Papers for the REC shall be circulated normally one week in advance of a scheduled meeting. Following an ethics application, conditions of approval will be addressed normally within two weeks and prior to the commencement of the research.
  • Proposals for consideration will normally be presented using the Forum’s Ethics Review Exemption Form, except in cases where formal recognition is to be granted. In which case, a research project descriptor accompanied by the institution’s ethics review paperwork and confirmation of decision can be provided.
  • Where the Forum Research Ethics Committee is in receipt of and acknowledges ethics approval for a research proposal from a recognised Research Ethics Committee, the proposal will be assigned a unique identifier code to record this formally.
  • The National Forum Research Ethics Committee shall as it develops reciprocal arrangements with other recognised Research Ethics Committees, record such agreements formally on a register which shall be published and reported annually to the National Forum Board.

For further details on the National Forums Research Ethics process and application form click here.